SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #174 : KEMPSTON, PROTEK AND FULLER

In 2000, Chemikal Underground came up with the idea of having an imprint named Fukd ID for limited edition releases (1,000 maximum) by a variety of acts, not all of who were on the label.

There ended up being eight releases via the imprint, one of which (Fukd ID #3) was the first ever release by Interpol and is fairly valuable to collectors. The last of them (Fukd ID #8), was accompanied by this promotional blurb:-

Sounding like a team of Harvard lawyers, Kempston, Protek & Fuller are actually John Clark (ex-bis) and Ally Christie (erstwhile guitar tech for the Delgados, Mogwai, The Pixies and all manner of assorted indie rock royalty). Their brand of eccentric electronica fitted the bill for Fukd ID perfectly and this remains another little known diamond in the crown of this offbeat series….

One of the tracks was later included on Dramatis Personae, an amazing retrospective released by the label in 2006 featuring 17 audio tracks and 28 videos from the label’s story so far, with the DVD including a number of audio commentaries.

mp3 : Kempston, Protek & Fuller – Localised Flooding

In doing a bit of research for this post, I learned that Kempston, Protek & Fuller are all names of computer game joysticks from the eighties……that alone should give you an idea of what to expect from today’s post.

JC

THE 1997 NME SINGLE OF THE YEAR (Recorded in 1965!)

I’m a long way removed from being a fan of The Verve or Richard Ashcroft, but I am willing to admit the song that brought them/him to the attention of the wider public is absolute class:-

mp3 : The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony (radio edit)

Only thing is….. that according to the info within the CD single sitting on my shelf, it was actually performed by The Andrew Oldham Orchestra and written solely by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

The story is quite infamous now. I’ll simply lift from wiki:-

The opening strings are sampled from the 1965 Andrew Oldham Orchestra recording of the Rolling Stones song “The Last Time”, arranged and written by David Whitaker. The Verve negotiated rights to use a six-note sample from the recording from the recording’s copyright holder Decca Records; however, they did not obtain permission from former Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein, who owned the copyrights to the band’s pre-1970 songs, including “The Last Time”. Although “Bitter Sweet Symphony” had already been released, Klein refused to grant a license for the sample. This led to a lawsuit with ABKCO Records, Klein’s holding company, which was settled out of court. The Verve relinquished all royalties to Klein, and the songwriting credits were changed to Jagger/Richards, with Ashcroft receiving $1,000 for completely relinquishing rights.

Verve bassist Simon Jones said, “We were told it was going to be a 50/50 split, and then they saw how well the record was doing. They rung up and said we want 100 percent or take it out of the shops, you don’t have much choice.” Ashcroft sarcastically said, “This is the best song Jagger and Richards have written in 20 years”, noting it was their biggest UK hit since “Brown Sugar”.

In a 1999 interview with Q, asked whether he believed the result was fair, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards said: “I’m out of whack here, this is serious lawyer shit. If the Verve can write a better song, they can keep the money.”

In 1999, Andrew Oldham sued for royalties after failing to receive the mechanical royalties he claimed he was owed. After receiving his royalties, Oldham joked that he bought “a pretty presentable watch strap” compared to the watch Jagger and Richards would get with the money. In an interview with Uncut, he said: “As for Richard Ashcroft, well, I don’t know how an artist can be severely damaged by that experience. Songwriters have learned to call songs their children, and he thinks he wrote something. He didn’t. I hope he’s got over it. It takes a while.”

In May 2019, Ashcroft received the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors. Ashcroft announced that the dispute was over following negotiations with Klein’s son, Jody, and the Rolling Stones’ manager Joyce Smith.  He said: “As of last month, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards signed over all their publishing for Bittersweet Symphony, which was a truly kind and magnanimous thing for them to do. I never had a personal beef with the Stones. They’ve always been the greatest rock and roll band in the world. It’s been a fantastic development. It’s life-affirming in a way.

So how much plagarism was involved?

mp3 : Andrew Oldham Orchestra – The Last Time

OK, I’m no musician and I can’t quite understand how it went the way it did.  Yup, there was a sample.  Yup, there was an error in not getting Klein on board. Yup, the song ended up being more successful than was likely imagined.  But there is no way that it could ever be seen as solely a Jagger/Richard composition. I’m also baffled as to why none of the five members of The Verve, named on the front of the sleeve and who obviously played on the track, aren’t entitled to any credit.

Things were just as ridiculous when The Verve included a remix version of the song as a track on the CD2 single of The Drugs Don’t Work:-

mp3 : The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony (James Lavelle Remix)

The same credits in terms of composing and performing were detailed, with the following additions:-

Vocals by Richard Ashcroft
Lyrics by Richard Ashcroft
Additional strings conducted and arranged by Wil Malone
Remixed by James Lavelle for U.N.C.L.E Productions

How magnanimous of them…..

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #223 : BAUHAUS

A DEBUT GUEST POSTING by MIDDLE AGED MAN

To me Bauhaus were the greatest live band of the early eighties, no other band managed to combine the aggression of punk with theatre. Peter Murphy was born to perform, never still for a second still, constantly twisting and pirouetting with a flexibility and physical shape that was awesome and even as a relatively fit eighteen year old I knew was beyond me. On the right hand side of the stage (from the audience view) was Daniel Ash, who yielded his guitar like a razor blade, sharp slashes, no gentleness and who would completely ignore the singer until he ventured into the guitarist’s territory and would then be physically pushed back to the centre. And on the left was the cool aloft David J who was economical to say the least, no wasted movement or facial expression.

The following ICA is based upon standout live memories rather than their recorded versions (with the obvious exception)

Side 1

1: Boys (B side of the Bela single)

The first time I saw Bauhaus was in Derby at a seedy closed down cinema – the Ajanta Cinema, I was a student at Nottingham Trent Polytechnic, a member of the Alternative music society, through which was arranged the tickets and coach. A sharp guitar rhythm, no solos allowed, intermittent drums and bass and Peter Murphy’s vocals carry the tune. With lines like ‘ features so fine, rouge and eyeline’ it seems to predict the new romantic movement, but musically has far too much aggression.

2. Dark Entries (Single)

A live masterpiece, feedback intro of rising tension, raising the hairs on the back of neck before bursting into the fastest Bauhaus song, even as a 50 year old at a re-union gig I had to rush forward and throw myself into the melee

3. Terror Couple Kill Colonel (Single)

The good old days when bands would release singles and NOT put them on albums, a slightly slower song compared to earlier releases and what a title , how could you not listen and it all takes place ‘in his West German home ‘

4. Third Uncle (B-side)

Bauhaus went through a period of releasing covers as singles, probably in an attempt to get in the top 20 – Telegram Sam, Ziggy Stardust and this Brian Eno cover, The first 2 were songs I already knew and were delivered with more threat than the originals, but Third Uncle was new to me as I had never heard any Brian Eno solo stuff and to be honest could have been a Bauhaus original for all I cared. This always takes me take to a Rock City show this was the opening number, but Peter Murphy was at the side of stage playing keyboards, which was like playing Duncan Ferguson at right back for the first ten minutes, taking away the focal point of the team/band.

5. Hollow Hills (Album track)

All live shows/performances need a pause, a breather, a chance for both the band and the audience to recover from the adrenaline rush of the first few songs, for Bauhaus Hollow Hills worked perfectly a shimmering introduction, almost spoken vocals the song carried by the repetitive bass notes.

Side 2

6. Burning From the Inside (Album track)

During their 2006 re-union tour I saw Bauhaus in Birmingham to begin the show. Daniel Ash stands atop the speaker stack and starts playing this tune, it isn’t the fastest of intros/riffs, but the sheer confidence/arrogance of the man was spell binding, wearing what looked like a fur edged tank top with his hair in a top knot we all stood still in disbelief.

7. Kick In The Eye (Single)

‘Searching for Satori’, released twice as a single it was the lead off track from the second album and heralds a sequence of great singles from mixed albums . Fairly obviously the live performances would feature Mr Murphy showing off his high kicks.

8. Antonin Artaud (Album Track)

Pretentious or educational? From The Sky’s Gone Out album, having heard the song I had to go to the library ( pre internet days) to find out who Antonin was, has the final repeated line ‘Those Indians wank on his bones’,

9. Dancing (Album Track)

Back to the second album ‘Mask’ (worse album cover ever contender) and another great live track that brought out the best of Peter Murphy’s athleticism, I have always assumed it is about himself as it described his stage performance perfectly.

10. Crowds (B side)

Another song that seems to be about themselves ( and also the audience this time) the only Bauhaus track that I can remember that features a piano rather than guitar.

11. In The Flat Field (Album track)

A great live track with thunderous drums which describes the frustration/boredom of a teenager living in the sticks wanting excitement. The line ‘in the flat field I do get bored replace with Piccadilly whore’ sums up why anyone moves to a big city.

12 Bela Lugosi’s Dead (Single)

I just had to include it, a career defining track which sounds nothing like anything else they recorded.

Thanks

Middle Aged Man

 

THE CLASS OF 79

An hour-long themed mixtape….and if I had a magic time-machine, it’s what I’d have played if I could have DJ’d at Mrs Villain’s 21st Birthday party, which would have been 40 years ago today……and a full decade before we first met!

mp3 : Various – The Class of ’79 (volume 1)

Tracklist

The Clash – I Fought The Law
Squeeze – Up The Junction
Blondie – Heart of Glass
The Specials – Gangsters
Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough
Joy Division – Transmission
The Jam – Strange Town
Wire – On Returning
The Pretenders – Brass In Pocket
David Bowie – Boys Keep Swinging
Gary Numan – Cars
OMD – Electricity
Joe Jackson – Is She Really Going Out With Him?
The B52’s – Rock Lobster
Gang Of Four – Damaged Goods
Earth, Wind & Fire – Boogie Wonderland
XTC – Making Plans For Nigel
The Undertones – Get Over You

I’ve a feeling that further volumes will follow in due course, given that I’ve failed to include so many great songs from that particular year.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #222 : NIRVANA

The idea of pulling together a Nirvana ICA was inspired by me catching up a few weeks ago with the documentary Montage of Heck, released back in 2015.

It tells the story of Kurt Cobain, from his childhood to his death at the age of 27. I found it to be a tough watch in many places, being at times a sad and moving portrait about an individual who was, to say the very least, a complex and troubled character. It was incredibly informative in many different ways, including opening my eyes to just how much there is out there in terms of material by Nirvana given that so many bootlegs, live, home and radio studio recordings have been issued in addition to the three studio albums. There’s a page on wiki that lists all known Nirvana recordings and there’s well over 100 different songs out there in some shape or other.

The ICA is drawn purely from the CDs that I have in the collection, consisting of the studio albums, a handful of singles and the MTV Unplugged release and as such may not be completely representative of the band’s output. But the question is, will it be entertaining enough for you?

SIDE A

1. Where Did You Sleep Last Night? (from MTV Unplugged, 1994)

If anyone doubts that Kurt Cobain was an incredibly talented performer, then I would ask them to listen to this, the closing track of the MTV Unplugged performance, recorded on 16 November 1993 and aired the following month, with the CD eventually released in November 1994 as the first posthumous release after the singer’s suicide.

It’s a cover of a traditional song known as ‘In The Pines’ thought to date from the 1870s with Nirvana basing their take on the version recorded by bluesman Lead Belly in the mid-1940s. The MTV performance takes up the final few minutes of Montage of Heck on the back of a very telling contribution from Courtney Love which reveals that her late husband was an incredibly insecure man, which was really no surprise given the story that had been told over the previous two hours. There can be few better instances of a singer reaching deep inside himself to give absolutely everything to the moment, revealing what was a largely unknown tender side to someone whose fame and fortune had been made on noise and raw energy.

2. Territorial Pissings (from Nevermind, 1991)

There will be a number of songs lifted from the album which provided the commercial breakthrough. Almost 30 years on and I can still listen to it from start to end without reaching for the FF button. It’s aged very well, which is unusual for anything which sold 30 million copies world-wide in its day. The shortest track on the album is loud and energetic, driven along by the pounding drums of Dave Grohl and the dynamic bass of Kris Novoselic, without whom the band’s sound wouldn’t have been so perfectly formed. There’s a co-credit given to American songwriter Chet Powers as the opening spoken lines are lifted from his song ‘Let’s Get Together’. Interesting that Powers was another musician whose reliance on drugs caused him a great many problems and grief, including a jail sentence that he served in the infamous Fulsom Prison.

3. About A Girl (from Bleach, 1989)

Nirvana will always be thought of as a grunge band, but this track from the debut LP shows that their songwriter was more than capable of writing a fabulous pop song that is reminiscent in places of R.E.M. and (whisper it given what I said a few weeks back) The Beatles. The only Kurt Cobain song you are likely to hear aired at an indie-disco…..

4. Come As You Are (from Nevermind, 1991)

The most obviously radio-friendly (musically speaking) of the tracks from Nevermind, but with a chorus that became awkward after the suicide. It’s not the band’s most representative of songs and the fact it was such a fan favourite had a lot to do with the determination to make the next again album as unlistenable and uncommercial as the record label would allow them to get away with.

5. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter (from In Utero, 1993)

Just as Ian Curtis’s bandmates failed to spot his increasing problems as illustrated within the lyrics he had penned for the songs on the album Closer, so too did those closest to Kurt Cobain fail to realise that much of what he was doing for In Utero, musically and lyrically, were cries for help. This ironically-titled track comes with a real sense of despair in the repeated use of the line ‘What Is Wrong With Me?’ within its chorus, and in retrospect is really the singer wanting someone, anyone to consider just why it is that he had turned into a junkie increasingly incapable of taking care of himself or thinking rationally.

SIDE B

1. Drain You (from Nevermind, 1991)

The fact that this track also appears on the b-side to the single release of Smells Like Teen Spirit demonstrates how little faith there was in Nirvana making any crossover from grunge obscurity into the mainstream.

Drain You has ‘smash hit’ written all over it, from its cheery sounding opening to a tune that wasn’t a million miles removed from those released a few years earlier by Pixies. The demand for Nirvana product was such that four singles were eventually lifted from Nevermind and while there is a huge amount of to admire about In Bloom and Lithium, neither sound as wonderful coming out of your FM radio as this.

2. Pennyroyal Tea (from MTV Unplugged, 1994)

It may well be one of the most accessible songs on In Utero but its finest rendition comes courtesy of the Unplugged show. It’s the only song in which Kurt Cobain performs alone during the show, which itself was a sort of happy accident as various arrangements tried out during rehearsals hadn’t been to everyone’s satisfaction. Answering questions during an interview carried out to promote the release of In Utero, the singer revealed that while the song title refers to what many had recommended as a way to try and cure his stomach ailments, he saw this as a death-bed song by a depressant who only made things worse for himself by reading deep and difficult books or listening to the most cheerless lyrics put to music by Leonard Cohen (something in itself which I find is a bit of an unusually lazy-cliché from Cobain)

3. All Apologies (from In Utero, 1993)

For anyone who may have missed out on About A Girl and the fact that there was more to Nirvana than screaming vocals.

I’ve long been a sucker for the use of cellos on rock and pop records and the contribution from Kara Schaley borders on perfection. It’s a song that took on an added poignancy after the suicide, sounding at times like the note that would be left behind.

4. Breed (from Nevermind, 1991)

From one extreme to another – one of the most alive-sounding tracks that Nirvana ever issued. Let’s raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwkk.

5. Smells Like Teen Spirit (from Nevermind, 1991)

The trick to a successful ICA is to get the ‘correct’ running order of the tracks. I’ve long said that an ICA doesn’t need to feature the best 10 songs by a singer or band but instead should seek to make for a seamless listen. There’s no doubt that Teen Spirit overshadows everything else the band ever did, becoming something of an albatross around their collective neck leading to Kurt Cobian re-using its distinctive introductory notes again on a later song that he would call Rape Me. But it became said albatross for the simple reason that it is an outstanding song that appealed to so many different types of music fans back in the day.

It is the first answer that 99.999% of folk will give when asked to name a song by Nirvana. It is likely the only song by them that many folk know. It was the obvious candidate to open the ICA but when I chose to go with the cover version, I couldn’t imagine it being anything else but the closer. It’s a killer tune and the repeated guttural and abrasive use of ‘ a denial’ over the last few seconds provides as great an ending to any song ever written and maintains the majestic epic nature of what had come before in the earlier five or so minutes. You don’t agree?? Oh well, whatever, never mind.

JC

THIS IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT……

…..WITH ARTWORK!!!!!!!!!

JC writes…….

Rol from My Top Ten has long been one of my favourite bloggers. He has, for years, made great use of his encyclopedic knowledge of popular music, and his incredible powers of recall, to deliver daily posts that are always packed with humour, honesty and originality, in a way that is quite unique in the blogging world. He’s also been a huge friend to this and the old blog, making comments and observations on a frequent basis, along with the occasional guest contribution.

Rol is a very talented writer and a few years ago he was the author of five issues of PJANG, a comic book (with the emphasis on book) that was not only named after a Nick Cave song but had subject matters that could be as dark and as funny as the story lines on any Bad Seeds or Grinderman album. PJANG was a great read and I was sad when Rol and his artist friends and colleagues had to call it a day to concentrate on other projects, such as providing for their families!!

But where PJANG once dared to tread, there’s now the prospect of the Department of the Peculiar goes POP! offering much enjoyment and entertainment. Here’s Rol to explain:-

Hi JC

I’m on the scrounge for a plug for my new comic, which we’re running a Kickstarter campaign for. Now normally, I wouldn’t bother my music blogging pals with this sort of thing as I know it wouldn’t interest them. However, you have been supportive of my writing in the past and this particular comic is based around the music industry – notably the attempts of a useless band called Areshole to hit the big time.

Link to the Kickstarter campaign where there’s loads more info is here…

http://kck.st/2GN35jk

I genuinely think that (some of) your readers might find this book funny and enjoyable / relevant to their interests, otherwise I wouldn’t approach you like this. If nothing else, it’s a free post, and I know how valuable they can be to daily bloggers!

If you’re not able to help or don’t think it’s appropriate for TVV, no worries – I won’t think any the worse of you.

Take care,

Rol.

If you click on the above link to the Kickstart campaign you will see that the initial target has been reached  – I’m proud and happy to have played my part and delighted that the project will see light of day.  But the team have decided to aim for a couple more goals, one of which will see the inclusion of a further story penned by Rol, so why not have a look and give some consideration to helping out.

Contributions start from as little as £2 for which you’ll get digital copies of the new comic book while £4 will see you get your hands on a physical copy.  If you’re feeling generous, there’s the opportunity to pledge more and obtain rewards….I’ve decided to get another one ticked off the bucket list and thus issue 2 of the comic book will see my ugly face pop up somewhere in the background!

Oh, and another great thing is that all contributors also receive regular updates on how things are going.

Finally, and if you want to see just what Rol was hinting at when he said “I genuinely think that (some of) your readers might find this book funny and enjoyable / relevant to their interests,”, click on the link and scroll down to enjoy a sneak peek at the opening three pages, which I reckon will make many TVV readers smile.

mp3 : Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – People Ain’t No Good
mp3 : Lloyd Cole – People Ain’t No Good
mp3 : U2 – Discotheque

Thanks folks. Much appreciated.

JC

 

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF (EARLY) SIMPLE MINDS (Parts 14 & 15)

The first nine months of 1984 were a complete whirlwind for Simple Minds.

It began in January with the release of their new single, which went Top 20:-

mp3 : Simple Minds – Speed Your Love To Me

Again, there was a harder, rockier edge to the song than previous material, with a backing vocal courtesy of Kirsty MacColl, particularly on the 12″ version which came in at more than seven minutes upon which producer Steve Lillywhite used his entire box of techniques and studio sounds.

The b-side was an instrumental:-

mp3 : Simple Minds – Bass Line

It would later transpire that the instrumental had later been fully devoped, with lyrics, and would appear, as White Hot Day, on the new album Sparkle In The Rain which, upon release in February 1984 entered the UK charts at #1, eventually spending more than a year in the Top 75.

Despite the sales and success of the new album, many fans of old, attracted to the band through the post-punk synth-led music, were bitterly disappointed by the new material. I loved the fact the local boys were now doing good finacially and were now plastered all over the media, but the songs left me cold. The four-night residency in February/March at the Barrowlands could have sold out three or four times over, but the band were on a tour that had already visited Australia, New Zealand and Ireland and was due to take in another three weeks of dates across the UK (although the end dates were cancelled from Jim Kerr being flu-ridden and exhausted)

Having said all that, the choice of next single was my favourite song on the album as, aside from the ridiculous 1-2-3-4 count-in (and the 80s pounding drums), it goes back a bit to the older songs with keyboards to the fore and a far from straight-forward lyric.

mp3 : Simple Minds – Up On The Catwalk

It stalled at #27, perhaps down to the fact that most folk would have the song through its inclusion on the album, but then again, it’s not the most straightforward of numbers nor as anthemic as more recent singles.

The b-side was another instrumental which was a fine reminder of the more experimental side of the band:-

mp3 : Simple Minds – A Brass Band In Africa

In April, an extensive European tour was undertaken, before returning to the UK to fulfill the re-arranged gigs postponed earlier – this culminated in a eight-night residency at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, proof if any were needed of the band’s popularity with the public.

The band would admit later to finding it a tedious experience and it was then that thoughts turned to making the transition to arenas and stadiums.

May and June saw them zigzag their way across North America, playing venues way bigger than previous visits, and after a brief interlude to play some European festivals, they went back to the States for an arena tour in August and September as support to The Pretenders – oh and somewhere along the line, Jim Kerr married Chrissie Hynde.

They were clearly a hard-working band, putting on tight and crowd-friendly shows night after night.  All that was needed now, was some sort of real crossover hit single, one that would cement their place in 80s folklore on both sides of the Atlantic….but in all likelihood, alienate the fanse who were becoming disinchanted with the direction the music was taking.

JC